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Friday, February 9, 2007

Everyone's A Critic

In case you haven't guessed from the title, I'll be sharing some reviews of various things I've come across living in Sacramento. Sometimes it'll be a restaurant, sometimes an album that surprised me, in a good or bad way.

For this installment, I'll be sharing my views on various breweries in the greater Sacramento area and sometimes beyond. Keep in mind that I'm just a normal guy who loves beer, not some uppity food critic who's opinon makes a restaurant owner rip his hair out in fear of a bad review.

A few of my regular brewspots:

River City Brewing Company
Located in Sacramento's Downtown Plaza below Century Theater. I must first mention that I've known of this place for a long time now through a friend who is a sous chef there. He was one of my top people in my Jamba days. However, that has nothing to do with my opinion of the place. Their stuff speaks for itself. My wife and I went there on our first date. I was happy to go there just to say hi to my friend and have some good beer with average food. I know this is a brewery, but their food is not typical brewhouse grub. There are a number of very complex dishes there, most likely created to compliment their wide variety of brews. Personally, the Vienna is my favorite of their beers. Aside from Vienna, I have tried the stout, Kolsch, and the Golden Pale Ale and all are enough to boast about. They have a pot roast that is remarkably different from what is usually expected. I have had their St Patty's dinner which is served with a special pub mustard that provides just enough bite without setting your mouth ablaze. Their brewmaster salad is among the top 3 salads I've ever had in my life. If you have not yet visited this fine brewery/eatery, please do so.

Sacramento Brewing Company
There are two locations, one in Town and Country Village at Fulton/Marconi and the other on Madison near Sunrise, called The Oasis. Both serve pretty much the same food and beer. Their Red Horse ale is my favorite there, with the Sasquatch Scotch Ale at a close second. Red Horse is crisp and the Scotch ale is very smoky. I would liken the Scotch to a Guinness style beer but much better. Their food is not quite as upscale as River City but the prices are. I've had the Ribeye, which was very good, but I think where they exceed expectations is in their appetizers. Nearly all of their starters are worth your time, especially the garlic or blue cheese fries. They take a bag of bag of oil along with garlic or blue cheese chunks and toss the fries in the bag right in front of you. If you're on a date, be prepared with a lot of Altoids. All in all, a great place to visit. The Fulton/Marconi location has live music during the weekends which makes for a fun time. Some friends of mine known as Nothing Like Negative play a free acoustic show on the first Saturday of every month.

Great beer, great food, and acoustic rock makes for an evening that's pretty hard to beat!

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
There are several locations on their website but I've been to the Folsom and Fresno locations. Both were equally good. The Pirahna beer was my favorite but the others pale in comparison to the breweries mentioned before. It makes sense why they put restaurant before brewhouse in the title. Their food is great. They have the biggest potatoes you've ever seen, about two pounds on average. They stuff or cover them with amazing combinations, like the grilled chicken, broccoli, alfredo sauce and cheese. They serve Chicago style pizza in many varieties.
If you're going there to drink, try a sampler to get a feel for all the varieties they have.

Rubicon Brewing Company
Rubicon is located on Capitol ave at 20th street in Midtown Sacramento.
I added this review after Pamm reminded me of how great it was. I'll be honest, it's been a long time since I was there so my memory isn't as fresh as it was with the others mentioned above. I do remember having their India Pale Ale and their Amber and they were good. Their food is what I remember most, like BJ's. They have incredible sandwiches and their onion rings were very good. Rubicon even serves breakfast for all you early birds out there. I will have to go there again soon to refresh my memory but what I do remember was an enjoyable experience. Pamm reminded me of the Rubicube which can be filled with a beer of your choice and fits in your fridge.

Streets of London Pub
Two locations in the Sacramento area, at 18th and J St and in Folsom on Bidwell.
Now, they may not brew their own beer but this place boasts one hell of a beer selection and incredible pub style food. Dishes like bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) and fish and chips are the cream of the crop. The atmosphere is fun and friendly, both inside and on the patio. The J Street location is more casual to fit its surroundings, with the Folsom location on Bidwell has a more upscale feel. A billiards table provides some sporting fun in Folsom while darts is popular at the J Street pub. They have an excellent appetizer sampler with items like fried zucchini and a scotch egg, along with beer battered mushrooms. For an English pub experience as authentic as the food itself, stop by Streets of London some time. If you really want to get in spirit, order an Irish Car Bomb! Keep in mind that their Folsom location has a full bar while J St sticks to beer and wine.

That concludes this installment of brewery raves and reviews.
If I find a hidden gem, I'll surely pass it along.

If you have visited any of these and would like to share your experience, please leave a comment. If you have been somewhere I haven't mentioned and want to recommend it, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for a new watering hole.

1 comment:

Pamm said...

Ok - couple of things:

1) I'm told that Streets of London downtown now has a full bar. Obviously I don't know for sure so I think you should go check it out.

2) How have you NOT included the Rubicon in this list? Come ON! Great beer, great food, outside seating and the best way to waste time during the summer. If you haven't been down there, take your ass there this summer. By FAR one of the best places in Sacramento. Seriously. AND they've got this thing called a "Rubicube" which you can get filled with their beer and it fits in your fridge. I can't remember how many pints it holds but it's awesome.